Day 25: Ngorongoro to Zanzibar

Wednesday 30th November 2016

Nautical miles 398

As we had ascended the crater yesterday we had been assured that fog in the morning was an inevitable and it was a worry that the aircraft might be stranded until halfway through the morning. But, as the sun rose at 5.30 the sky looked perfectly clear.

We were caught smuggling sausages out of the buffet by a curious waiter who asked us if maybe we would like a plate. We had to confess that we were stocking up for lunch at which point he quite got into the whole idea and provided us with foil and plastic bags.

Lift off at the Ngorongoro crater

At the air strip the planes had been guarded by rangers who had pitched a tent and kept watch, during the night they were visited by curious elephants and a few hyenas. A casual push by an elephant would certainly destroy the R66. Just as the aircraft were starting up a group of Masai warriors dressed in brightly coloured blankets came over the brow of the hill. It was a gift to the photographers , the juxtaposition of the biplanes and the Masai could have come from another age. As we watched jealously the last plane and then the helicopter left for Kili. We had a somewhat more mundane journey back down to the lake in the truck.

Once back at Kili we had our first experience of being refuelled by Puma energy. These are the guys who will be supplying much of our fuel as we go further south. For the first time we had barrels that were in date and an electric pump with a flow metre.

The next stop is Zanzibar, a place that will have to offer a lot if it’s to live up to the exoticism of its name. Visually this wasn’t a particularly interesting flight mainly noticeable were huge fields of cultivated pineapples and mango trees. The land dropped away in wide steps until for the first time in what seemed like forever we were flying at 1500 feet. Then the farms gave way to scrub and low trees and then the white sand beaches of the eastern coastline. Wonderful totally unspoilt beaches that go on for 50 miles. At first we chose to follow the coastline south so as to minimise the amount of time we would spend over the water. But, as we turned east the water was a perfect and inviting cerulean, shallow enough in places to see the sand ridges below the surface and clear enough in others to see the dark blue where the deep water began. The main island of Zanzibar is surrounded by many smaller islands, some just sand banks and others populated with palm trees and small houses. The approach to the airport took as past Stone Town, the main town for the island with a sea front of faded colonial grandeur.

Finally by the sea

On getting out of the heli after landing the first impression was the intense humidity, just like having a warm wet flannel pressed to your face. The Puma people were around again which meant efficient fuelling. Long may this last. Thus, we were able to quit the airport and head into town to go to the hotel. The streets of the town are very narrow and as the taxi squeezed between buildings.

Dhow at sunset

I have to admit that although the booked hotel,had tons of charm we chickened out and high tailed it to the Hyatt. We swopped character for aircon and a view of the sea.